In September 1962 the BMC (British Motor Corporation) launched their replacement for the MGA sports car. The MGB was larger and more comfortable and weighed in at a basic price of £690, plus £259 purchase tax (a lot of money in the 60's!). Fortunately, two months later on 5 November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced the rate of purchase tax from 45 to 25 per cent, making way for a more affordable British sports car.
It was a golden age for sports cars with the Austin Healey 3000, E-Type Jaguar, Lotus Elan all available although at higher prices. The MGB proved popular thanks to its top speed of a heady 103 mph, overall fuel consumption of 28 mpg and an affordable price of £834. Competition at the time came mainly from the Rootes factory with the Sunbeam Alpine, which was not quite so fast or economical. Competition also came in the shape of the pretty Triumph TR4 which was slightly faster although more thirsty on fuel.
Nobody envisaged the MGB would be so popular, surviving 10 years after its natural car life, spanning 18 years and half a million cars. Inevitably the MGB became a classic in its own right, also becoming the most popular British car to be sold in America, albeit with the infamous rubber bumpers in later years.
Today there's still great enthusiasm for the B encompassing dozens of British MG clubs. Most of these will be in attendance at the special celebrations to be held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire on Sunday 4th August 2002. Entry will be free for drivers of MGs.
Special guest on the day will be Don Hayter who joined the MG Company from Aston Martin in 1955 as chief body design draughtsman, and was responsible for the styling of the MGB. He will be sharing many of his memories and experiences from this period at the celebrations.
Facts and Figures:
- 1928: The MG Car Company was established in Edmund Road, Oxford
- 1962: MGA replaced by MGB, using the BMC B-series 1.8 litre petrol engine
- 1963: Paddy Hopkirk and Alan Hutcheson driving a long-nose MGB came 12th in the 24-hour Le Mans race
- 1965: The GT body, a hatchback style coupé was launched
- 1967-9: An MGB derivative was the short lived six cylinder MGC – only 9,000 were made
- 1973: MGB GT V8 was introduced with 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine
- 1974: All MG models received a face-lift with rubber bumpers to meet US legislation
- 1977: USA sales of MGB increased 33 per cent in a year to 22,902
- September 1979: BL announce closure of MGB production at Abingdon
- BL decline offers from Aston Martin to sell the MG name
- July 1980: MGB production ceases at Abingdon
- 1981: On-the-road list prices: MGB roadster = £6,127; standard GT = £6,595; MGB LE Tourer = £6,445; LE GT = £6,937
- 1981: Henry Ford II acquired the last of the US MGB Limited Edition roadsters
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